After working for six years as a television reporter in Delhi, Sugandha Kedia found herself at sea after her marriage and her move to Raipur, Chattisgarh.
She says: “After jostling for several years, I thought about taking a sabbatical. It didn’t go as planned, so I launched a multi-designer store, One in 2017, which featured several well-known brands like Sabyasachi, RANI-SVA, Anju Modi, Saaksha & Kinni, Deme by Gabriella, Anavila and Limerick.
Sugandha Kedia, founder of Dusala Kashmir
In the same year, the former Zoom and NDTV employee began posting makeup and fashion content online on Instagram. With increased engagement since lockdown, he also helps lead the marketing efforts of his most recent passion project, Dusala Kashmir, an artisan brand including shawls, stoles and scarves.
Launched in January 2020, the six-month brand is already a favorite among Bollywood celebrities like Shilpa Shetty, Dia Mirza and Karisma Kapoor, and the award-winning European-based fashion blogger Masoom Minawala Mehta.
Sugandha started her career as a fashion and entertainment press correspondent at Zoom, then worked at NDTV Good Times, IBN7 and Focus TV between 2008 and 2011. She then worked for Property TV Dubai and Home Shop 18. She has also evolved as a self-taught fashion designer along the way.
However, the seed of his second adventure, Dusala Kashmir, was sown during his childhood. Growing up in Delhi, she remembers being fascinated by the shawls and scarves that the weavers sold from house to house at an extremely low price.
“As a child, it bothered me to work so hard for very little money, and I wondered how to take care of their children and their families. I wanted to do something about it, ”she says.
Sugandha started working on the brand a year and a half before its launch. This involved many trips to Kashmir and many convincing women who, to his surprise, turned out to be the main weavers.
The entrepreneur eventually resorted to buying several of their handcrafted pieces and later asking them to design for it.
In order to meet the demands of people from the United States, the United Kingdom and Australia, Sugandha employed 50 weavers across Kashmir to meet customer tastes and preferences.
Today, the price of shawls, hand woven and fabric, starts from Rs 2,500 and goes up to Rs 10 lakh, and are sold on its website.
Specifically, a hand-woven pashmina cost around 10,000 rupees, while the price of a long process-woven Kani over three years cost between 98,000 rupees and 2.5 lakh rupees.
The popularity of Kashmir shawls is such that a person traveling anywhere abroad is forced to stumble upon a store that sells them.
“The products sold are basic in terms of design, which may have been in fashion 20 years ago. With our artisans, we aim to showcase the true essence and beauty of craftsmanship, how they switched to new design and new techniques, colors and modern blends, ”she says.
Since his work requires frequent network trips and discussion of designs with the weavers, the COVID-19 induced lockout was expensive. She had almost made a deal with coveted fashion week brands before COVID-19 hit.
“I’m sure everyone is suffering and I shouldn’t be complaining,” she says. Sugandha and her team of weavers are now using WhatsApp video calling, where she shares new designs and stays up to date on the job.
But it’s not just work. She says she is blessed to be treated like family by the weavers. They even sent him videos of his cooking and showed him the apples on the trees. His heritage fashion business may have been born out of a childhood dream, but the effects have been enormous.
Sugandha says she was able to travel, help the weavers and be part of their family. She attributes this growth and success to the unwavering support and love of her family.
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